Heat 1: New Zealand, Australia, Serbia, Canada, Germany.
A bottle floating near the start delays racing. Australia remove it. Southern hemisphere battle between lanes 1 and 2. Canada are first off the start and pull out half a length quickly. Three crews level with New Zealand trailing by three-quarters of a length. Australia start to lift the pace and are first to 500m. Germany are dropping back after putting a lot into the start. Australia by half a length to Canada. Overhead shot show Australia’s finesse as they start to move clear of Canada. The Aussies look relaxed and are clear at 1000m. Serbia start to move at half way and squeeze through Canada. New Zealand and charging early and move to fourth just behind the battle for second place. Australia two and a half lengths over Canada with so much time on the slide. Hands away is so smooth. All other boats within a length for second place. Enormous push from Germany and they smash through to take second. That was a huge finish from the Germans. Canada, with big layback, struggle to kick the rate up but secure third. New Zealand are fourth and Serbia fifth.
Australia set a new Olympic Record.
Heat 2: Romania, Belarus, Great Britain, Czech Republic.
GB won’t have heard of the Aussie record but will assume they’ve gone fast. The Czechs have a quick start and all four crews go off with a few feet between them. GB move ahead now taking three-quarters of a length over Romania at 500m. Belarus and the Czechs fighting for third place a length back on Romania. GB cruising out to over a length and Romania working to extend their lead. Belarus push hard through 1000m and are a length up on the Czechs. GB blades are whipping through the water which is slightly choppy with the tailwind at Dorney. GB have a length and a half with 500m to go. The Czechs go for a big finish from a long way out but don’t quite make it. GB aren’t playing the Aussie game and cruise to the line, letting the other boats close to just over a length. Close finish from the rest as Romania take second place. Belarus take the last qualification place with the Czechs just missing out.
Heat 3: Netherlands, USA, Italy, Greece.
Greece start quickly and get their canvas clear but the other three boats pull back rapidly. The USA cross 500m just ahead of Greece. Italy a few feet back and Netherlands on their tails. It’s close with a canvas between 2nd, 3rd and 4th at halfway. The USA have moved over a length ahead. Greece are in second with a canvas lead over the Netherlands which is closed to feet at 1500m. Italy are out the back but will try to build early. Italy lift to 42spm but Greece respond and the Netherlands move another half length. It’s USA, Netherlands and Greece who progress to semifinals. The Italians will go through to the repechage.
The battle is set up nicely for the semifinals.